The History

Jerry Garcia Fender of choice was the Twin Reverb. Early in the Grateful Dead's infancy Jerry only used the amp in it's stock form.

" My First Amplifier with the Warlocks was a Fender Twin Reverb. I bought it in the first year they came out, around 1963 or 1964, I guess. It may actually still be in use. I sold it to Mike Wilhelm of the original Charlatans." J.Garcia - Guitar Player 1978 Interview

The Warlocks 1965

Sausalito 1966 (Rehearsel)


In 1967 Jerry switches to 2 amps, a Fender Twin and Showman Head which fed a 2-15" speaker cabinet.



By 1968, the amps consisted of a Showman Head and 2 Fender Twin Reverbs. By this time, modifications were done to the amps by Owsley Stanley and Ron Wickersham to boost the output and stabilize the power supply of Leo's original design as well as to keep them as noise and hum free as possible. Modifications such as changing the Potentiometer to Mil Spec'd versions(AB Type J/RV4), the zener diode bias regulation and Allen Bradley Cathode Bypass resistors were used(Wickersham). Also, at some point in this time period the beginning's of the Alembic Company began to Preamp Tap the Twins and Showmans , as well as having their Tube Power Sections tapped into and used as "Slave" units. This practice was only used for a very short time and the exact dates are unknown. During that brief period Alembic Preamp Taps were then fed, first to Dynaco MK III's for a short time, and then to Mcintosh MC75's which fed the external cabinets. Ron Wickersham stated that the same power tube used in the Dynaco's produced considerably more power in the MC75's.

Newport Pop Festival August 4, 1968


From 1969 thru Europe 1972 he moved to 3 Fender Twin cabinets with the 2 - 4-12" Extension speaker cabinets. In the Stack of Twins, the top one utilized both the Normal and Vibrato preamps.

Woodstock 1969

Fillmore East 1970

Poynette, Wisconsin April 26, 1970

Gaelic Park Aug 26, 1971


Copenhagen Apr 17, 1972


For a very brief time during 1972, Jerry powered his speakers with Mcintosh MC3500 tube power amps. The input buffer stage of the MC3500 was bypassed and the Twin's Preamp signal was fed straight to the Output Stage. In this configuration only 1 Fender Twin cabinet was used and both the Normal and Vibrato channels Preamp tapped to individual MC3500's. By 1973 he was using the MC2300 solid state amplifier for power with a single Fender Twin Reverb cabinet with both Vibrato and Normal channels Preamp tapped. Normal Channel was used for monitoring.

Watkins Glen July, 1973

RFK, 1973

Alembic Guitar Player Interview

From the early day's, to the end of the "Wall of Sound" in 1974, the work done to Jerry's Twin(s) was done by Alembic and the "Alembicization" mods (below) were done to them. During the "Wall of Sound" he used a Blackface Twin, Alembic Preamp Tap. Both channels were jumpered together with a jumper cable from the Vibrato channel Input 2 to the Normal channel input 1. The Guitar used input 1 of the Vibrato channel and the jumper cable connection allowed for the one signal to pass to both preamps. Each channel was preamp tapped seperately to each side of an MC2300. The Normal Channel was used for stage monitoring. A Budweiser "Bud Man" Sticker is placed on Jerry's MC2300 and this particular amp becomes a favorite of his that he would use almost throughout the rest of his onstage performances.

1974 - The Wall of Sound


October 16 -19, 1974 - The Grateful Dead Movie


After the "Wall of Sound", and subsequent hiatus, Alembic was no longer in charge of the "gear" but occasionally was used for maintenance, mostly for instrument work. During the hiatus in 1975, Jerry begins using a Mesa Boogie Mark 1A preamped into an MC2300. However, at the Orpheum Rehearsels between May 27th and July 12, 1976 an MC3500 can be seen in his rig as well as an MC2100 on top of his speaker cabinets and 2 Mesa Boogie Mark 1's. He eventually moves to 2 Mark 1's preamped to MC2300's up to the Fall of 1976.

September 28, 1975

The Orpheum Rehearsel June 1, 1976(possibly May 28,29 or 30th)


Soundcheck July 12,1976


October 31, 1976


The Fender Twins, Blackface and Silverface, arrive in the fall of 1976 both housed in a modded Twin cabinet. The primary Twin used at this time was the Blackface(With Master Volume) and the MC2300 was used for power. The JBL K120 was the speaker of choice. This setup was used for the rest of the seventies thru the eighties, with the Silverface (No Master Volume) preamp becoming the primary sometime around 1982. With the trade deal lost with Rhodesia in 1979 the worlds supply of Cobalt forced speaker companies to change from Alnico Magnet speakers. For Jerry the move to JBL E120 ceramic magnet speakers began sometime in 1980.

Oakland Stadium October 1976


April 26, 1977 - Capital Theatre 

December 30, 1977 - Winterland

December 31, 1977 - Winterland Set 1

December 31, 1977 - Winterland Set 2

"My second amp was also a Twin Reverb. I'm still using it, but only as a preamp. From the preamp it goes to a Mcintosh 2300 that drives 4 JBL 12" speaker. It's simple and gives me another point of stability. The more elements you have stable, the more you can concentrate on your playing and not be continually adapting your technique to your equipment." J.Garcia - Guitar Player 1978 Interview

December 31, 1978

December 31, 1979

December 31, 1980


During 1981 Jerry starts to use the Silverface Twin as his primary preamp. 

December 31, 1981

At the start of the show on September 5, 1982 (Glen Helen Regional Park - Devore, CA) Jerry begins the show with Budman.

Playing in the Band - MC2300 Budman

But During Samson & Delilah he has problems with Budman and Steve Parish sits on top of it an MC2500. Jerry would go on to use the MC2500 from this point until early 1983.

China Cat - I Know you Rider - MC2500 on top of Budman


December 31, 1982

 December 31, 1983







July 4, 1989 - Rich Stadium


In late 1989 and through Spring 1990 Jerry is seen using a Crest 8001 Power Amp that sat on top of his Mc2300(Bud Man). By the Summer Tour 1990 it was not used again.


August 19, 1989 - Greek Theatre - Crest 8001


July 7, 1990 - Tinley Park, IL - Brent's Last





The Grateful Dead began to use an IN-Ear monitoring system which also retired the use of the MC2300 and JBL E120 loaded speaker cabinet onstage, but JGB shows still utilized. The Fender Twins were retired in 1993 when Jerry began to use a Groove Tubes Trio preamp and Real Tube Reverb units. There were various techniques used in handling the TRIO's output to the board such as Speaker Cabinet Simulators, as well as offstage/onstage Mic'd Speaker cabinets. Until setting on the Sound Research ELF system and Reality Amplifier with speaker simulators.


"In ‘93, ‘94 and ‘95, Sound Research combined ELF signal generation with another of its newly developed technologies, called the "Reality Amplifier", into Bob Weir’s and Jerry Garcia’s stage systems. The Reality Amplifier is a digital processing technology that extends the peak dynamic range of acoustic transducers and enables acoustic products to reproduce the original performance characteristics.[16]

Early versions of the Reality Amplifier, prototyped by Tom Paddock and Morton Lave (CTO of TC Electronics ), were embedded within a special Grateful Dead audio operating system for the legendary TC Electronics M5000 DSP mainframe.[17]

After a successful Grateful Dead tour using ELF signal generation technology and the Reality Amplifier, “Big” Steve Parish (Jerry Garcia’s manager) ordered a backup system. This system was scheduled to be delivered in late 1995 for the Jerry Garcia Band and for Grateful Dead’s winter 1995 tour. The new system was never completed due to Garcia’s death in August 1995."


March 24, 1993 - Dean Smith Center - Chapel Hill, NC


June 26, 1994 - Sam Boyd Silver Bowl- Las Vegas, NV


July 9, 1995 - Soldier Field - Chicago, IL


The "90's" Rig



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